Though the exact cause of the uptick in violent crime is unclear, some experts cite poverty as a possible explanation. Nationwide, 14.0% of Americans live below the poverty line. Of the 10 states with the highest violent crime rates, seven have a higher poverty rate greater than or equal to the nation as a whole. Meanwhile, eight of the 10 safest states have poverty rates below that of the U.S. as a whole.
In almost every state, major metropolitan areas largely drive violent crime rates. Delaware, Mississippi, and Vermont are the only states that do not have metro areas that are more dangerous than the state as a whole. In Monroe, the most dangerous metro area in Louisiana and the country, there were 1,187 violent crimes for every 100,000 people, more than double the comparable statewide rate, which itself is one of the highest in the nation.
The U.S. prison population climbed from about 1.5 million in 1994 to 2.2 million in 2017.But while the increase in nationwide prison population has coincided with the decline in violent crime rate, states with higher incarceration rates tend to also have higher violent crime rates. In Louisiana, the fifth most dangerous state, there are 1,019 state and federal prisoners for every 100,000 adults in the state, the highest imprisonment rate in the country. Maine, the safest state in the county, has the lowest imprisonment rate at only 163 inmates per 100,000 adults.
Certain regions of the country appear to be more violent than others. Of the 10 most violent states, nine are either in the South or western United States. Meanwhile, New England states comprise half of the country’s 10 safest states.
To identify the most dangerous states, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the number of violent crimes reported per 100,000 people in each state from the FBI’s 2016 Uniform Crime Report. The total number and rates of murder, nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, which comprise the violent crime rate, also came from the FBI’s report. Poverty rates came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey. Imprisonment rates are for 2015 and represent the number of people in state and federal correctional facilities sentenced to one year or more per 100,000 state residents age 18 and older, and are from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice.